How Braces Work: An In-Depth Look

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Whether you've recently made the decision to have your teeth straightened or your dentist has recommended braces for your child, it's helpful to understand the mechanics of how braces work, as well as the problems they can correct.

Why Orthodontic Treatment?

Most people want braces to improve their smile, but others need braces to improve their oral health. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) says when teeth are crooked or crowded, maintaining good oral hygiene can be difficult, putting you at risk for cavities or gum disease. If you have an improper bite, tooth enamel may be worn away prematurely, chewing and speaking may be difficult, and dental problems may develop due to abnormal stress on the bone and tissues around your teeth.

The AAO recommends scheduling your child's first orthodontic appointment at age 7. By that time, all of the baby teeth have fallen out and he or she has enough permanent teeth for the orthodontist to determine whether braces may be needed.

How Braces Work to Move Teeth

The methodical process of moving misaligned teeth into their proper position is accomplished with a combination of brackets, wires and tiny rubber bands called ligatures. Simply put, braces move teeth by applying steady pressure that eventually straightens the teeth, says KidsHealth from Nemours. Here's an in-depth look at how braces work, as outlined by The Scientific World Journal:

  1. Compression and tension forces exerted by braces move not only the teeth, but also repositions the tissues and blood vessels around the teeth.

  2. The periodontal ligament and alveolar bone are remodeled.

  3. The bone is reabsorbed and reformed.

Partnership for Successful Treatment

Realigning teeth isn't an overnight process, and positive outcomes require patient cooperation from beginning to end. Take note of the following tips for success.

  • Keep all orthodontic appointments. It may seem like endless visits to the orthodontist, but missing critical adjustment appointments can add time onto the length of treatment.
  • See your family dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Untreated dental complications may interfere with the progress of your orthodontic treatment.
  • Maintain an excellent home care routine. Braces can trap food and bacteria, so to avoid any enamel demineralization, brush regularly with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. Flossing may be tricky, but try your best. To get those hard-to-reach places, rinse with a mouthwash, like Colgate Total Advanced Health. It helps prevent gingivitis, reduces plaque and freshens breath.

Now that you're clued in on the mystery of how braces work, this may be a perfect time to get started. After all, orthodontic treatment is an investment that will give you or your child straight teeth, an excellent bite and a fantastic smile.

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